Something every housewife prides herself in is being frugal, especially when it comes to necessities like clothes and groceries. Here is an ever growing list of ways you can do just that!
Download the Walmart App. Gone are the days of combing through the weekly sales fliers and then driving across town because Winn-Dixie has your kid’s favorite brand of Macaroni and Cheese on sale for fifty cents less. Just do all your shopping at Walmart, scan your receipt with your phone, and they’ll give you that fifty cents difference! It all goes to your Walmart Pay account, which you can use in stores or online. You can also add all those Walmart gift cards that have little weird amounts left on them!
Download apps like Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Shopkick to earn points for cash back on certain items you buy (or even just scan in stores). It’s a little time consuming, especially if you choose to use Shopkick and walk around stores scanning all the listed items, but it can add up (it can also be an adventure for the little ones, like a scavenger hunt)!
Get acquainted with your local thrift stores. It’s not all 90s Mom Jeans and your grandma’s old floral dresses. A lot of people donate like-new, name brand items just because they’re out of season, don’t fit anymore, or because they’ve got a shopping addiction and not enough closet space. I’ve found my daughter brand new baby shoes, still in the plastic package with a $29.99 MSRP sticker on them for $1.99! Not to mention gently used toys, a ton of clothes, hand-sewn quilts, and some 25 cent DVDs.
Learn to sew. I’m not saying you need to become a seamstress and make all your family’s clothing, but basic knowledge of how to use a needle and thread can save a pair of pants or a favorite teddy.
Learn to cook like your grandma did. People in the old days tended to have bigger families and less disposable income, so they learned how to make the food budget stretch. Potatoes and beans are a Godsend when you’re broke, hungry, and not wanting to feed your kids Ramen noodles. Save leftovers from one night to be a part of the next night’s supper. Today’s baked chicken is tomorrow’s chicken pot pie. Today’s beef roast is tomorrow’s beef stew. Think of ways to make cheap meals seem fun. Your kids might be tired of sloppy joes, but have you tried making sloppy turnovers (i.e. sloppy joe meat and cheese put into a rolled out canned biscuit, folded over like an apple turnover, and baked)? Most importantly, remember that Grandma didn’t cater to everyone. You ate what was in front of you or you went hungry.
Invest in laying hens. If your space and city/county allows for it. It’s really not that expensive to get started and you’ll save a fortune on cage-free organic eggs. They’re pretty easy to take care of and they’re a great chore for little ones.
Start a garden and plant fruit trees and berry bushes. Again, if your space allows for it. It’s another good chore for little ones and you can also use the fertilizer from your chickens! You probably won’t make a huge dent in your grocery bill, but nothing tastes better than something you grow yourself.
Just give the dog scraps. I know people that refuse to ever let their dog taste table food, it’s Blue Buffalo or nothing. You’d be surprised how much your pets’ food can add up to. What’s the big deal of letting your dog have the food that your family didn’t finish? Pour a little hamburger grease on some cheap dry dog food and they’re in hog heaven!
Hunt. Or let your husband hunt. Whatever. It’s a hobby many love and a good deer will put a lot of meat on the table. Learn to process your own meat to save even more money.
Fish. It’s a great way to spend time with your family outdoors and it puts food on the table. Win-win. Even toddlers love to cast a line out.
Skip the expensive weekend activities. Laser tag, bowling, and movie theaters can be fun, but they’re not cheap. Try taking the kids to do fun (and sometimes free) things like going swimming at the lake, creek, river, or beach. Or take them fishing, as suggested above. Go on a hike or to the park. Go tubing (either on the river like we do down here, or on a snow covered hill like I hear they do up North, I guess it all depends on location and season), kayaking, or canoeing. Play games at home, have a family movie night with Netflix and Little Caesar’s five dollar pizzas (or a cheap frozen pizza, if you want to save even more) and snacks. Invest in outside toys (even a simple ball) so the kids can have fun at home and run their energy out.
Make the kids pick one extracurricular activity. Does Johnny really need to play basketball, baseball, football, soccer, and take karate lessons? And does Susie need to do ballet, gymnastics, cheerleading, softball, and take clarinet lessons? Think about all the money spent on fees, uniforms, and equipment. Now think of all the gas spent going to and from practices and games or recitals. I bet a lot of those evening when you’re running kids here and there, you also stop and get takeout, because who has the time or energy left to cook after all that? Bump each kid down to one or two after school activities. They’ll be fine. And if you’re extra lucky, they’ll pick the same one.
Skip going out on date night. I know. I know. You only get one day a month or year or whatever to go out with your husband kid-free, why waste it at home? Well, for starters, you’re already exhausted and going out is tiring. And the whole point is alone time with each other, right? So drop the kids of with Grandma and instead of going to a fancy restaurant, get some takeout and have a romantic candlelit dinner at home. Then snuggle up and watch a movie or do whatever else married couples like to do when there’s no kids around…
At home spa day and girls’ night in. Every mama needs to get pampered once in a while and have a night with her friends, but few of us non-trophy wives can afford such luxuries. Get some of your girls together and hit the beauty department at Walmart (don’t forget to use your apps!”) for some face masks, scrubs, lotions, nail polish, etc., then head over to the other side of the store for margarita mix and snacks. Put on a charcoal clay mask, get a little tipsy on homemade drinks, stuff your face with chips and salsa, and half-watch a chick flick while gossiping with the girls.
Wander around a discount store a few times a month. Places like TJ Maxx, Burlington, Ross, and Bealls Outlet can have some great things at even better prices, but their stock seems to change constantly, so you have to go often to see what they have.
Learn as many skills as you can. We already touched on this with sewing, but it’s good advice in general. Why pay somebody to do something that you can do yourself? A lot of things are way simpler to do than you would think. Before you hire a professional, try looking up the instructions on YouTube. You’d be surprised.
Cut the cable. An antenna can give you all the major networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, etc.) plus quite a few other channels for free! And if you have internet, you probably have Netflix and/or Hulu, so what are you really paying for with cable? A few extra channels or show? You need to decide if they’re worth the price tag.
Look into prepaid cell phones. My husband and I have StraightTalk. We spend $35 a month each for unlimited talk and text a 2G LTE (it’s still unlimited after that, but it slows down). We get the cheapest option because we have unlimited WiFi at home, so there’s no need for a lot of data on our phones (before we had WiFi, we used to get the $55 option that has unlimited high speed data). Yeah, we pay for our phones outright upfront, but when you do the math, we come out way ahead. We also don’t get the newest versions of phones right when they come out.
Do you really need that gym membership? How often do you go? What machines do you use most? Could a $100 treadmill and some weights in your garage accomplish the same thing? How about taking walks with the kids? An exercise video? Unless you’re super into fitness, the expensive membership and classes might be a waste.
MORE WILL BE ADDED TO THIS LIST SOON. I CAN ONLY WRITE DURING NAP TIME! COMMENT ANY TIPS YOU’D LIKE TO SEE ADDED TO THE LIST.